Oil prices mixed in Asian trade

Oil prices were mixed in Asia on Thursday following a bearish US energy report, while talks over crude producer Iran's nuclear programme dragged on, analysts said.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery fell nine cents to $60.18 while Brent gained one cent to $63.50 in afternoon trade.

Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice at business consultancy EY, said oil prices came under pressure after the US Department of Energy's weekly petroleum report.

It showed domestic crude output edged up to a record 9.6 million barrels a day in the week to June 19. Crude stockpiles, though down 4.9 million barrels in the week, were still at a near-record 463 million barrels.

The data dampened hopes in some quarters that the US oil industry was cutting back on output in the face of low prices as the country enters the summer holiday driving season.

Gupta said dealers are also expecting an "extension of the Iran nuclear talks," which could see Iran return to the world stage as an important oil producer.

However, it "seems increasingly likely as the parties involved signalled doubt about being able to resolve all the issues by the 30 June deadline," added Gupta.

Six global powers are trying to nail down a deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions by reducing its stockpiles of enriched uranium and mothballing some of its sites.

If the agreement is implemented, the powers have agreed to gradually scale back sanctions imposed since 2012, including on its petroleum industry.

Iran has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves but its exports have fallen from more than 2.2 million barrels per day in 2011 to about 1.3 million because of the sanctions.

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